Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Harmony of Faith and Life, Pt. 1

Our first hero of faith and life is a simple man named Giovanni, who gained great fame as a juggler. Traveling through the Italian countryside one summer afternoon, he had a chance encounter with two monks. Giovanni shared his small meal with them, and entertained them with his juggling act. They told him that his juggling brought glory to God, but he just laughed and went on his way.

At the end of his life, Giovanni could no longer amaze the crowds, and found himself homeless and taking shelter in a church. The sanctuary was filled with people carrying beautiful gifts, but he didn’t understand why. Then a villager told him it was the birthday of the Holy Child, pointing to the statue of Mary with Jesus on the altar. Giovanni had nothing else to offer, and so he decided that when the church emptied that night, he would juggle for the wistful-looking Child in his mother’s arms.

That night, even in his old age, he gave his most brilliant performance. A monk spied him, and thinking it sacrilegious, ran to summon the priest. When the monk and the priest arrived, Giovanni lay dead on the floor. But as they turned to look at the statue, the Holy Child was smiling. Giovanni had died as a "Clown of God."[1]

The monks Giovanni met that one summer day were right. His juggling brought great glory, and pleasure, to God. This is true for any gift or ability that God has given us. When you make discoveries in the laboratory, God delights. When prepare a meal for your family, God delights. When you bring a young mind to new knowledge in the classroom, God delights. When you serve others in the Body or in the world, God rejoices over you with singing.

C.S. Lewis has said being a Christian isn’t so much about doing new things as it is about doing the “same things one had been doing before, one hopes, in a new spirit.”[2] So watch that you aren’t deceived by the monotonous repetition of your labor into thinking that it is of no consequence to God. Every pen and key-stroke, every changed-diaper, every note played, can be holy. “The work of a Beethoven and the work of a charwoman become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that being offered to God, of being done humbly ‘as to the Lord.’”[3] So like Giovanni, make an offering of your gifts and work, and render yourself a “Clown of God.”

[1] The story is from Tomie dePaola’s delightful children’s book, The Clown of God.
[2] “Learning in War-Time,” from The Weight of Glory. (Macmillan, 1980: p.23).
[3] Ibid, p. 26.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Brent said...

Well said and Amen. Oh that we had a greater awareness of God's delight in us.

2:21 PM  
Blogger derek said...

Thanks for this Chris. I loved it!

12:15 PM  

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